What's the intended difference between these two tags ? My question is motivated by the comments on this question. I tried trolling MO to discern the difference, and have failed so far. And no, "you know it when you see it" is not an acceptable answer :)

  • $\begingroup$ I think the question you linked to is both soft and big-picture. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Aug 29, 2010 at 7:29

1 Answer 1


How about this:

soft: "having a bland or mellow rather than a sharp or acid taste"

big-picture: "the entire perspective on a situation or issue —used with the"

A soft-question is subjective and argumentative without a precise answer and can be a question about theoretical computer science rather than being a question in it.

How would you teach X to undergrads?
Why computer scientists do X when Y happens?
Is theoretical computer science part of pure math?
How long will it take to settle P vs NP in your opinion?

A big-picture question is higher-level question, and although it can be subjective and argumentative it does not need to be, and is a question in theoretical computer science.

What is the main idea behind Razborov-Rudich natural proofs?
What are the obstacles to prove a super-polynomial lower-bound for SAT?
Where did the idea of Domain theory came from?
What are the main objects and constructions used in crypto?
Is there a program to settle Unique Games Conjecture?
Is polynomial time Turing computable the right definition for feasible computation?
What evidence do we have for Church-Turing thesis?

(sorry for the bias in my examples.)

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is a great answer. We could put this in the FAQ with little editing. $\endgroup$ Aug 29, 2010 at 10:35
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. It is now CW, feel free to edit. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Aug 30, 2010 at 6:18

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